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Michigan Attorney General asks court to toss challenge to reproductive rights amendment

Dana Nessel announcing her bid for Michigan attorney general in 2017.
Detroit Free Press
Dana Nessel announcing her bid for Michigan attorney general in 2017.

Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel has asked a federal court to dismiss a legal challenge against the voter-approved amendment to the state constitution that guarantees reproductive rights.

The plaintiffs in the case include Republican legislators and organizations opposed to abortion rights. Their challenge alleges an expansive variety of harms, including to women, health care providers and unborn children.

Nessel, the state’s Democratic attorney general, said Wednesday the examples in the lawsuit are speculative. She also said the lawsuit fails to meet the requirement that plaintiffs show a real-life harm or injury that deserves redress.

“A lawsuit can’t be based on a hypothetical situation which may or may never occur,” she told Michigan Public Radio. “Really, the plaintiffs are unable to use real world examples to point to. They have a parade of horribles that is not dissimilar to the scare tactics they used during the anti-Prop 3 campaign.”

Proposal 3 – the Michigan Right to Reproductive Freedom amendment – was adopted by Michigan voters 56.7% to 43.3% on the November 2022 ballot. But Nessel said she does not take the legal challenge lightly.

The plaintiffs include Right to Life of Michigan, Representative Gina Johnsen (R-Lake Odessa), Representative Luke Meerman (R-Coopersville), Senator Joseph Bellino (R-Monroe), Christian Medical and Dental Associations, and “Jane Roe, a fictitious name on behalf of preborn babies.”

William Wagner is one of the plaintiffs’ attorneys. He told Michigan Public Radio that a judge should at least hear the arguments.

“There’s freedom of speech, there’s free exercise of religious conscience of OBGYN physicians that are raised in this lawsuit that I think are legitimate issues for a court to hear,” he said.

The case was assigned to U.S. District Court Judge Paul Maloney and Magistrate Judge Ray Kent.

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Rick Pluta is the managing editor for the Michigan Public Radio Network.
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